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by No Analyst or Consultant

Measures of ITIL Performance Contribution Lacking, Survey Shows

May 01, 20064 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

By John Sansbury

In recent years, organizations have increasingly adopted a variety of “best practice” frameworks as part of their performance improvement and service management strategy. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) has emerged as the most popular of these methods. While few doubt the general benefits of ITIL, the ability to quantify gains resulting from its implementation remains elusive.

Between November 2005 and February 2006, Compass invited executives to participate in a global ITIL survey to explore the extent to which organizations are able to correlate the maturity of their ITIL processes with the realization of specific improvements in IT and business operations.

The survey comprises 70 responses from executives with organizations from at least 11 different countries. Of the respondents, 82 percent started their ITIL implementation program at least 18 months beforehand and should therefore be well placed to comment on their ITIL processes and the benefits that their program is delivering.

Key Findings

Respondents were asked to categorize the maturity of each of eight core ITIL processes. The results for established, mature and world class responses are plotted below:

The survey shows incident management to be the most mature and capacity management to be the least mature of ITIL processes. Of potential concern to executives is the finding that configuration management, widely accepted as underpinning all of the other core ITIL processes, is regarded as less mature than almost all others.

Respondents were then asked to describe their level of confidence that their ITIL program is delivering tangible improvements in IT performance:

Unsurprisingly, respondents expressed a relatively high degree of confidence, with two-thirds either fully or fairly confident.

We then asked executives how well they measured the maturity of their ITIL processes:

Only 4 percent of respondents felt able to say that all of their ITIL processes were fully measured for maturity, and less than one-third of respondents had maturity measures for all ITIL processes.

To complete the picture, respondents were asked to define how well their organizations could measure the impact of process maturity on performance improvement:

Surprisingly, only 9 percent of respondents (six out of 70) felt able to say that the relationship was based on full measures, fully linking process maturity with performance.

Seventy-two percent felt unable to acknowledge any linkage at all between process maturity and performance improvement.

Implications of Findings

ITIL is not a one-size-fits-all framework. To achieve cost-justified performance improvements, organizations need to understand which processes should be implemented in which sequence and to which level, based on their specific needs.

Implementing a service management process framework such as ITIL is a major activity. It typically takes several years, represents a culture change, and requires investments in people, tools, training and documentation. Understandably, organizations making this level of commitment want assurance that their investment is delivering benefits in terms of reduced cost and improved performance.

This survey indicates a world of difference between perception and reality. Compass recommends that CIOs seeking to maintain investment in ITIL, as well as the confidence of business stakeholders, be able to address these three simple questions:

  • Can you measure the maturity of your ITIL processes?
  • Can you show how increases in process maturity deliver reduced costs and performance improvements?
  • Can you demonstrate how your ITIL investment is delivering real business benefit?

Elements of a Successful Implementation

  • Get stakeholder buy-in for your ITIL program. Understand their requirements and the outcomes and benefits they expect.
  • Don’t rely on process maturity self-assessments, as they are unvalidated, subjective, too generic and offer no improvement recommendations.
  • Use process-related performance measures, such as percentage of incidents caused by changes and percentage of service-level targets missed.
  • Relate process maturity to business costs, such as the number of incidents x outage duration x users affected x user employment rate.

This survey was designed and the results analyzed by John Sansbury, who directs Compass Group Services related to IT Service Management (including ITIL and CobiT), Contact Centers and Service Desks.